Trump campaign lawsuit against Pa. that includes Northampton County due Tuesday in federal court

Written by on November 16, 2020

Trump campaign lawsuit against Pa. that includes Northampton County due Tuesday in federal court

By Emily Previti, WITF

November 16, 2020

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AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

The latest lawsuit brought by President Donald Trump’s campaign over the election in Pennsylvania is due in federal court Tuesday in central Pennsylvania.

Since Election Day, the campaign has initiated two dozen cases in five states – most here in the commonwealth, including Northampton County – challenging election procedure, in addition to contesting thousands of provisional ballots. Millions of votes initially hung in the balance, but that number has plummeted because most of the campaign’s efforts have failed or been abandoned.

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As of Sunday night, Trump was losing by 69,000 votes in Pennsylvania of nearly 6.9 million cast and with more than 87,000 mailed, provisional and late-arriving ballots still uncounted.

Quairah Tucker votes in every election, but this year brought a lot of firsts.

She’s one of millions of Pennsylvanians issued a mailed ballot. Hers never arrived, though. 

So, she was among more than a hundred thousand who voted provisionally at the polls.

Then, more than a week later, Tucker got a letter in the mail saying her ballot was being challenged.

“When I was at the polling place, I thought that my vote counted. So I didn’t expect to have to come in and fight for my rights, for my vote counting,” said Tucker.

Tucker and more than a thousand other Delaware County voters had their provisional ballots challenged by the Trump campaign for any number of reasons: signing in the wrong spot, using the wrong date, failing to seal the ballot envelope properly and so on. In Tucker’s case, she signed her name in one spot, but not the other where voters are supposed to sign.

“I filled out the ballot, like I was told to do. I was instructed to only fill out one box. And I guess that was not enough.”

The campaign has challenged thousands of provisional ballots in several other counties including Northampton, Montgomery, Chester and Allegheny.

That’s in addition to its eight unresolved lawsuits in courts across the commonwealth.

Plus, the petition before the U.S. Supreme Court initiated by Pennsylvania Republicans – which the Trump campaign has since joined – that could invalidate about 10,000 ballots that arrived after polls closed on election night and before 5 p.m. on Nov. 6.

Tucker says she was closely following those cases even before she learned the Trump campaign had challenged her ballot and will continue to do so, even though Joe Biden is president-elect and the campaign’s lawyer withdrew his challenge for her ballot and the vast majority of the others in Delaware County last week.

“Honestly, with all this going on, challenging most of the Democratic votes – I can’t just go with how it looks right now,” said Michael Latner, a political science professor at California State Polytechnic University

Latner says the campaign is challenging provisionals in other states as well, including Nevada and Arizona.

“They’re challenging every ballot that they can, if they can come up with any reason to challenge a ballot. They’re doing it, you know, to slow the process more, I think, than to win any legal victories,” said Latner.

Hatsboro-based lawyer Jonathan Goldstein denies that. Goldstein’s representing the Trump campaign on multiple legal actions including provisional ballot challenges in Delaware and Montgomery counties.

“Someone’s going to win this election, in every race, and someone’s going to lose it. And it is important for us to determine the winner and loser as it is for us to give the people who lost a sense that the election was fair and that objections were reasonably heard disposed of properly. If we don’t do that, it’s harder for the victors to rule legitimately,” said Goldstein.

But election officials from both parties say the election went well and was secure, as do international observers and the Department of Homeland Security. 

“People are selective with their attention, but the fact is that we’re putting such a close microscope on some of these main cases — whether it’s Detroit or Philadelphia, or Las Vegas — the fact of the matter is that for those who really care, there is evidence that that our local election officials are doing a pretty good job, given the challenges that they face.”

Latner says it’s increasingly unlikely — approaching impossible — that Trump will litigate his way to a second term as legal efforts fail, or are abandoned, and more ballots are counted and expand Biden’s margins. 

“The best hope was to invalidate enough votes to outright claim victory for the Trump administration. Or – and I think this is sort of where we’re at now – gumming up the works long enough to justify some intervention on the part of the state legislators. Although I think it’s increasingly clear – now that Biden is winning by a big enough margin in Pennsylvania and in those other states – you’ve now even seen the GOP state legislators come out and say that they’re not going to intervene. So it’s kind of game over,” said Latner.

Judges have ruled against the campaign at every turn so far in Pennsylvania as well as Michigan, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada.

An exception is last week’s ruling that Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar wasn’t authorized to give voters who cast provisionals extra time to provide proof of identification — a decision expected to affect few ballots.

The campaign’s track record has been similar for provisional ballot challenges so far, according to attorney Stacey Rabbino. She’s a lawyer for advocacy organization Pennsylvania Voice and attended last week’s hearings in Delaware County.

“Of the 1,200 ballots that were challenged, most we’re allowed to count. Every single voter that appeared here today, their vote counted. In every single case that a voter appeared here today, Mr. Goldstein withdrew his challenge as to that individual voter. It’s a testament to the people.”

Some other counties are just getting to the point where provisionals could be challenged.

That includes Bucks County and Philadelphia, where the campaign filed suits unrelated to provisionals.

One targeting 8,000 Philly ballots was dismissed Friday, but the campaign has since appealed.

Another, over the city’s canvassing rules pending before the state Supreme Court, appeals a Commonwealth Court decision in favor of the Trump campaign. Two lower courts sided with the city. 

The Bucks case, which goes to court Tuesday afternoon, contests the validity of just 76 ballots.

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